Chef of the Week: Jude Kereama, Chef Patron at Kota in Cornwall

How long have you worked at your current restaurant?
We opened Kota in 2006 and Kota Kai in 2011.

Where did your passion for cooking come from and where did you learn your skills?
My mum was the most amazing cook and I learnt to love food from her. Later I did a course in New Zealand and worked in some excellent restaurants back there.

What do you enjoy most about being a chef?
The thing I love most about being a chef is the fun and excitement each day brings. No two days are ever the same and it is a joy to do something I truly love.

Name three ingredients you couldn’t cook without.
Salt, garlic and butter.

Which piece of kitchen equipment couldn’t you live without?
I have so many essential pieces of kit but maybe it is my Lincat Combi Oven.

What food trends are you spotting at the moment?
Food trends come and go, but the one thing that really matters is that there seems to be a lot more individuality in every chef’s style, and there are so many excellent chefs in Cornwall.

What do you think is a common mistake that lets chefs down?
It is hard to put a finger on common mistakes that chefs make when I am focusing on my own restaurants. If there is one thing, we take everything to heart so much because we want people to enjoy what we cook. All we want to do is make people happy with food.

What is your favourite time of year for food, and why?
I love cooking in all seasons, but Spring has to be the best as the new season veg come out. Foraged produce like wild garlic, and seaweed are out ; new season lamb, flowers, asparagus, and peas are all in season too.

Which of your dishes are you most proud of?
At Kota, I produced a dish called Rockpool which was for GBM. It reflected on the time spent with my son in rockpools in Porthleven and produced we get locally.

How do you come up with new dishes?
Dishes can be inspired by seasons and experiences dining out or a childhood memory. Some dishes get reinvented and better with time as well.

Who was your greatest influence?
My greatest influence on my cooking has been my childhood and travelling to countries I thought I would never ever see growing up in New Zealand.

Tell us three chefs you admire.
Roux Brothers (surely that is one influence), Simon Rogan and Raymond Blanc.

What is your favourite cookbook?
Larousse Gastronomic has been my kitchen bible for so many years as a young chef and even now.

Who do you think are the chefs to watch over the next few months?
There are so many young talented chefs buy you could say Spencer Metzger from the Ritz who took GBM by storm last year. I am cooking with him at the Great Chefs Dinner in London for NSPCC.

What’s been your favourite new restaurant opening of the last year?
It is hard to get out and eat but the best new restaurant I have been to recently is 45 Queen Street in Penzance. The food is on point, delicious, and best of the season. Love it.